Although this “quest for Seve Ditko” story calls him the JD Salinger of comics, he’s actually pretty easy to find—like many other pilgrims, the Post reporter, inspired by the release of the latest Spider-Man movie, just rang the door on his studio.
He never married, never had children. He was never particularly close to anyone with whom he worked. He has been called “impossibly uptight” by fellow comic book writer Neil Gaiman. The only thing Ditko ever seemed to care about is the Work, and to this day, even well past retirement age, he continues to turn up every weekday at his Midtown West studio and put in eight hours of drawing. Sitting alone behind a windowless steel door with a nameplate reading “S. Ditko,” the artist, who long ago left mainstream and superhero comics behind, creates strange, self-published comic books often steeped in the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand, of whom he is a devoted adherent.
The report suggests Ditko lives in a nearby hotel and includes quotes from many who have actually met him, and a portrait of the prickly, principled artist emerges. Ditko refuses, as he has for decades, to talk about his work, but allows a few comments:
Whatever the case, the artist doesn’t seem much interested in money. Although he could make thousands doing commissions for fans, he consistently refuses. Instead, he forges ahead on black-and-white, self-published books with titles like “The Avenging Mind.”
“I do those because that’s all they’ll let me do,” he tells The Post, suggesting big publishers aren’t interested in his work anymore.
Ditko’s refusal to do commissions or trade in his past for any reason makes him something of an icon for the objectivist philosophy which he lives by. You know, if you talk the talk (or untalk in Ditko’s case) you must walk the walk. And he has for all of his 84 years.
The comments on the piece include a few testimonials, like this from former Marvel editor Mort Todd:
The “just having a conversation with him is difficult,” and “impossibly uptight,” quotes speak more of those who said it than of Ditko. I’ve done lots of work with Steve and found him just the opposite. He is one that never suffers fools gladly, and fools don’t like it.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.